The fight over the “Budweiser” name began hundreds of years ago, but it was resolved in the 1950s by allowing the small Czech brewer Budvar to control the European market, while the American giant Anheuser-Busch could maintain theU.S.market.

Both companies could use the name Budweiser in certain countries, but inGermany, for example, Budvar has exclusive rights. In 2006, Anheuser-Busch was a major sponsor of the World Cup Soccer tournament held inGermany, yet it could not put up Budweiser signs anywhere.

Anheuser-Busch originally registered its Budweiser name with the European Commission in 1996 for “beer, ale, porter, malted alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverage,” but Budvar appealed the case because the name was already in use by Budvar prior to 1996 and had been registered in 1991 for “beers of any kind.”

Two years ago, Anheuser-Busch and Inbev, a Belgian brewer, merged to become Anheuser-Busch Inbev. Anheuser-Busch Inbev and Budvar’s Czechvar decided to distribute Czechvar, the name the company uses in the United States, through  the network of 600U.S.wholesalers. Such access to distribution channels would never have been possible without this partnership. Compared to last year, Budvar thus increased exports to the United States by 7 percent in 2008.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was the lawsuit about between Budvar and Anheuser Busch Inbev?
  2. Why were the companies able to partner with each other in the United States?

Aaron O. Patrick, “Czech Brewer Wins Suit Over Budweiser Naming Rights,” The Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2009; Associated Press, “Budvar’s Beer Exports to US Rise 7 Percent,” Forbes, March 31, 2009.